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RIP Hollywood Screenwriting Legend Robert Towne, aged 89

  • July 3, 2024
  • 2 min read
RIP Hollywood Screenwriting Legend Robert Towne, aged 89

RIP Hollywood screenwriter Robert Towne, author of one of the finest screenplays of all time, namely, Roman Polanski’s Chinatown, which is now celebrating its 50th Anniversary. The National Film & Television School used to have this film on its curriculum for post graduate student analyses. It’s that good. Beyond this, Towne also wrote the hugely underrated Hal Ashby directed films The Last Detail, starring Jack Nicholson, and Shampoo, with Julie Christie and Warren Beatty, plus the Tony Scott directed 1990 epic with Tom Cruise, Days of Thunder, with that incredible score by Hans Zimmer.

His overlooked 1970’s screenwriting credits are seen in the shape of Alan J Pakula’s political thriller The Parallax View, Robert Altman’s masterpiece McCabe & Mrs Miller, Arthur Penn’s ‘Western’ The Missouri Breaks, with Brando and Nicholson; plus Warren Beatty and Buck Henry’s heavily hyped Heaven Can Wait. These all remain uncredited (oddly). In addition to these classics, the founder Editor of Uncut magazine, Allan Jones, rightly pointed out recently that Robert Towne was also brought in to undertake 1967 rewrites for Arthur Penn’s Bonnie & Clyde, a film that changed the face of modern cinema by anticipating the greatest decade of American movie making, namely, the 1970’s. Unknown to me till now, Jones added that Towne wrote the masterful closing scene for Brando and Pacino in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather. Brando received an Oscar for his role, but did not accept it.

In more recent times Towne wrote the screenplay for both Mission Impossible and Mission Impossible 2, directed by Brian De Palma and John Woo, respectively. In 2006 he co-wrote and directed the romantic drama Ask The Dust, starring Colin Farrell and Donald Sutherland. His final screenwriting credits were for two episodes in the TV Drama series Welcome To The Basement (2013-2017).

RIP Robert Towne aged 89.

Godfather, “I never wanted any of this for you…”

About Author

Henry Scott Irvine

The published author of Procol Harum's hardback Omnibus Press biography, Henry Scott-Irvine's writing began in the script departments of the British film industry. He continued as a Film & TV 'Music & Arts' researcher. He has a long background in published journalism. A radio producer-presenter since 2009 as well as a producer of the award winning documentary film Tales From Tin Pan Alley. He's a successful campaigner for securing listings and preservation for London's music & film heritage sites.

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